FEIT Research Project Database

Nanoengineering materials to combat antimicrobial resistance

Project Leader: Andrea O'Connor
Staff: Daniel Heath
Collaborators: Neil O'Brien-Simpson (Melbourne Dental School)
Sponsors: Australian Research Council
Primary Contact: Andrea O'Connor (a.oconnor@unimelb.edu.au)
Keywords: antimicrobial; biomaterials; nanoengineered materials; nanotechnology
Disciplines: Biomedical Engineering,Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering

This project aims to understand how nanoengineered materials can be designed to kill bacteria and fungi without causing antimicrobial resistance. Resistance to antimicrobial drugs already leads to many thousands of deaths annually and costs society billions of dollars. Nanomaterials have unique abilities to attack microbes in multiple ways that could limit resistance. This project will engineer new antimicrobial nanomaterials tailored to selectively kill microbes with reduced likelihood of developing resistance by using synergies between inorganic nanoparticles and antimicrobial peptides. This technology could be used to prevent infections and biofilms on surfaces in a wide range of future applications, such as medical / veterinary devices.

This is a collaborative project between the School of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering and the Melbourne Dental School with close connections to clinical and industry partners to support translation of the research findings. Researchers working on this project are using the latest nanomaterials fabrication and characterisation techniques to create new kinds of non-drug antimicrobial materials and test their performance against a range of pathogens, including drug resistant bacteria and fungi. Our research is providing insights into how biomaterials can be designed to attack microbes through multiple mechanisms, making it difficult for these organisms to develop resistance to the new materials.

Further information: https://biomedical.eng.unimelb.edu.au/tissue-engineering https://www.acmd.org.au/antimicrobial-biomaterials

Nanoparticles damaging bacteria (Image: T. Huang)